I may never know how it feels to fly in a rocket or to hover above the Earth from miles above. I will not know the gift of flight like a hawk, nor behold from such a height the painted squares that divide playgrounds.
But after school today, I did at least walk up a hill with three amazing young people. We walked along a dirt trail toward Hawk’s Rock – the highest point above the school. Evangeline, Myra, and Grace went ahead of me since they knew the way quite well. The Rock sat half way between the school and their houses on the other side of the hill. When I went there, it was to watch hawks fly, see cars zip and feel the touch of winds from the east or the west.
When I caught up with the girls, they faced south looking all the way to where the curving planet disappeared at the horizon. Today’s view had special clarity. They didn’t say they minded letting me stand along side and share this vista with them.
From my toes to the crown of my head, I felt that the planet had a few things to tell us. We all scanned the horizon for a minute. Then, Evangeline, curly hair parted and tied in two wings, lifted her chin to make a short declaration. “Earth is a big, flying rock.” Her two friends giggled but added no further comments. So I asked a follow up question.
“Really? How does that feel? To stand on a flying rock?”
She explained how the rock flies through space, how other planets fly as well, and how very tiny she felt standing on here on this day. When she finished, she paused and then signaled her friends to come along. They said “bye” and homeward they went. I stayed on to take in the all-in-all on this cloudless day.
I got to considering my predicament as a human being, destined to live out my days on a flying rock. How often I wished to be some type of animal other than a human – to fly, to shape-shift, to travel through time. Maybe humans are unique in yearning to be other than they are. And still, for all the wishing, we remain thin skinned, mid-sized animals. Only the very few will ever move beyond our planet’s gravitational pull.
I know a 10,000 foot view offers plenty. Seeing what a cloud sees as it floats over our scrambling could save us from countless missteps. However, if you get too hooked on the sky, you forget about all that comes from having two feet nestled in the rich soft dirt. Everything grows from the ground up – at least everything that matters to me.
My school and my life – the lives of every child that flies along side me on this rock – change in each moment. Evangeline called it out as she stood here and I got it as she and her friends left. I can’t fly, but I have – we have – learned ways to make a go at what we’ve been given.
Leave the big picture to clouds. Give it to me hand to hand, moment to moment. Intuition, receptivity, and flow. These come to us at the ground level. May we invite the contact. May we feel it in the gut. Let all the airborne mysteries float above. Call them ineffable and let your feet find the way, here, among the rocks, the grit and the grass.
Right here on earth.